Sex Roles

, Volume 78, Issue 9–10, pp 685–696 | Cite as

Menstrual Knowledge and Taboo TV Commercials: Effects on Self-Objectification among Italian and Swedish Women

  • Giuliana Spadaro
  • Sara R. G. d’Elia
  • Cristina O. Mosso
Original Article


Despite menstruation being a physiological phenomenon in women’s life, social research has highlighted that there are still many taboos, also conveyed by advertising, which prevent an open discourse on the topic and can have negative impacts on women’s well-being. The present study examined the influence of the exposure to existing TV advertisements for sanitary napkins depicting menstruation as a taboo on self-objectification in women from Italy (n = 160) and Sweden (n = 159). To do so, we also investigated the moderating role of menstrual knowledge in this relationship. Our findings showed that in the Italian sample, exposure to the taboo TV commercial led to more self-objectification especially for participants with lower knowledge of menstruation. These effects did not occur for their Swedish counterparts, showing no differences in self-objectification when women were exposed to the taboo advertisement. The present results are discussed in light of cultural differences in sexual and menstrual education between the two countries. Theoretical and practical implications are drawn.


Self-objectification Menstrual knowledge Advertising Menstrual taboos TV commercial Italy Sweden 



The authors are grateful to Angelo Romano and Danny Azucar for helpful comments to early versions of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human and/or Animals

The study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki (7th revision, 2013) and with the norms of the Code of Ethics of the Italian Association of Psychology (AIP).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study

Supplementary material

11199_2017_825_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 16 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giuliana Spadaro
    • 1
  • Sara R. G. d’Elia
    • 1
  • Cristina O. Mosso
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TurinTurinItaly

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